Do you ever find yourself constantly getting distracted by all the little tasks you have going on during the day? Between staying in contact with clients, looking for new jobs, maintaining current client relationships, AND all the work that comes between, you really don’t have as much time to just be a designer that you thought you did. Thats pretty normal for most designers still finding their groove in their workflow. Time blocking your day and actually sticking to it is probably the most surefire way you can maximize your productivity without changing much other than your routine. This can also help with a few other areas of your job that you might not even realize yet. Time blocking helps you stick to the task at hand because you’ve given yourself a definitive start and stop time. You know that even if you don’t get done with a project 100%, you’ve got a break coming up and that can sometimes incentivize your subconscious to work quicker to try and reach a stopping goal that also falls in your time block so you don’t fall behind on your master schedule. Are you finding yourself giving clients estimated due dates and falling behind by a few hours, or even days? Time blocking will help in two ways - you give yourself a time “budget” to stick to during the day. You KNOW when you’re supposed to stop so you become more eager to finish certain projects so you can stick to your schedule. You also have a definitive schedule that you can send to clients so they understand your availability during they and when to expect work from you and your team. If you let them know that you’re going to shut off at a certain time - they can expect your contact and work to come in for their review at a specific time of day, AND they will be more understanding if something is unfinished and WHY you will need to pick it back up in a few hours or the next day.
How to get started:
Spend a week taking note of your work habits. Find what times you feel more creative. Are you a night owl? You’re probably better suite to block your time later in the evening when your energy is there so you can truly feel that you’re in the groove you need to be to produce the work you want to show off to new clients. Maybe you want to get things done in the morning and spend your evenings relaxing or going out to get away from the house. In this case you should find what times of day work best for you (in the morning) and block your work times around those and create a solid schedule to follow. Create some time in the morning to fall into your natural groove, but don’t leave so much that you’re just turning out to be lazy until its time to work. Grab some coffee, browse the web, get inspired, and then DIVE IN.
Staying On It:
If you have a digital calendar (I use my iCal on my macbook), USE IT. That might be THE best tip that I’ve learned from my partner recently. Block out your time during the day and set up reminders and have it repeat daily. Send the reminders to your computer and your phone so you’re alerted no matter where you are. This creates accountability in your subconscious that helps you stick to it. don’t forget to time out breaks in your schedule as well so you know when you need to stand up and stretch and grab a drink so you can come back to your current project with fresh eyes before sending out to your client. Small 5-10 minute breaks can really help you decided if you actually needed to add a certain element to your design or if you were just staring at it for too long.
Don’t just stop block time for work:
Time block multiple elements in your day to really stick to your design blocks. Block out time for your personal activities like reading, watching your favorite show (Ahem.. Game of Thrones or True Detective?) riding your bike around your neighborhood or city, working out, hanging with your cat, grilling out, all of that. Its way too easy to get consumed with work to the point where you find yourself ALWAYS working. That isn’t good for the mind or soul. You need to spend time with the things you like outside of your grind to keep perspective of why you’re freelancing in the first place.
Let us know how YOU like to time block your day and how it helps with your grind. We love hearing new ideas and feedback that others are doing!